Journey at the NICU
Isabella Grace Houle
“With God all things are possible.” That is the verse I found myself clinging to when days at the NICU soon became weeks. My daughter, Isabella Grace Houle, was born 6 weeks early with Respiratory Distress Syndrome, and battled Pneumonia the first week of her life. I was beaten emotionally, physically, and mentally as we carted our 1 1/2 year old around to different babysitters because he wasn’t allowed in the NICU with Isabella. Everyday we visited her we felt helpless that we could not do anything to help her. The only thing we could do was be there for her. I would watch her monitors as though they would grant me some kind of hope and peace, yet, they only left me feeling more discouraged. She would have her good days and bad days. The nurses encouraged us to stop looking at the monitors because it would drive us nuts. I started setting mini goals. It would be cool to have her home in 1 week, then 2 weeks, then Thanksgiving. It was heart breaking. I soon realized why they would always answer the question, “Do you have an idea when she will go home?” with, “it’s up to Isabella.” They didn’t know either.
After 12 long days they finally let us hold her. That was such a feeling of elation. Prior, she had such delicate IVs and needles poking her, they didn’t want to disturb her too much. Things started picking up speed by week 3 She was able to be breast fed. Babies near her kept on coming and going, which was emotionally trying. When was it Isabella’s turn? After 3 weeks Andy and I joked that she was all better, but it was a conspiracy theory for her to stay. The nurses just thought she was too cute. This may seem out of place for those reading this article, but by week 3, we just wanted a reason to smile; we felt enough pain.
God was our Strength
I always felt a peace from God that she was going to be ok. Prayers from as far as India were our lifeline. However, it was a constant battle to stay strong. There was a picture of a baby in the waiting room that was born 6 weeks early. He looked so healthy and full of life, yet in a small plaque underneath we soon realized that it was in memory of this child. Isabella was also born 6 weeks early and didn’t look half as healthy as this beautiful brown eyed little boy. Although I tried to keep a positive attitude, I was getting beaten down. I prayed a lot, and although I felt like I was giving the entire situation to God. I think I was still holding on to the belief that we could do it in our own strength or through the doctors skills.
I kept on asking the doctors what we needed to shoot for as far as oxygen level, respiratory rate, and feeding intake. I overheard nurses say that babies need to be comfortable in their car seat before they were able to leave, so I asked them if we could bring in car seat the next day? My heart almost sank as they said no; they only let you bring the car seat in a few days before she gets to leave. How much longer? The only confident response they gave me was that she was not ready. After 3 weeks I had enough.
God of the Impossible
I read the scripture “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” when I was nearing my lowest point. I repeated this scripture with passion and conviction because I was beside myself. I wanted my family to start congealing together. I wanted Tim to meet his little sister. They were still uncertain how many weeks she would be in the NICU and if she would have to leave with a nasal canula. Every time I got discouraged I kept on saying, “With God all things are possible.” I started to become numb to what the doctors were saying. I refused to let it get me down because I knew I served a bigger God than what the monitors were revealing. Oxygen and respiratory rate hadn’t been stable for weeks. Nurses were telling me anything before due date would be a good thing, which was Dec. 21st. It was only Nov 30th. “With God all things are possible.”
All of a sudden Izzy started turning around. The nurses said she was like a new baby. One of the new nurses asked why they hadn’t let us bring in her car seat yet. They said they have to get her ready. I couldn’t believe my ears. Just days before they were so discouraging. “With God all things are possible.” So many emotions flooded my heart. God had answered my prayers. She was finally going to come home with no nasal canula. She came home 4 weeks after she was born, and is 5 months old now.
God is Faithful
All this to say, God heard every prayer and caught every tear. I never truly realized how delicate life was before I saw my daughter fighting for her life. I had to trust God with my children because I had no other option. No matter how much time I spent with her I could not make her better. Isabella means Consecrated to God. Her name, is a reminder to me that I can’t do this on my own. It is not how I would have planned it, but its a reminder that God is always faithful. When things are good, sometimes we fail to recognize why they are good, but when they are bad, you have no other place to turn than God.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and fortress, my God, in Whom I trust.